Which weathervanes are best?
As a functioning piece of meteorological equipment, a weathervane is definitely limited. However, as a decorative feature for a barn or a cupola or a chimney, many people find weathervanes to be charming and nostalgic. Traditional weathervanes usually consist of a compass directional, a free-spinning rod, and a decorative cap, often in the form of a farm animal. Some may also have wind cups that indicate wind speed or creative mechanical elements.
A weathervane does have a few practical functions, to be fair. A dramatic shift in wind direction can indicate an approaching storm front. The speed of the wind cups can help gauge if it is safe for farmers to broadcast seeds that day. Other than that, many people simply enjoy watching a decorative weathervane turn and spin on a vintage barn roof or steeple. When shopping for a new weathervane, overall durability is an important consideration, since a weathervane may spend years exposed to the elements.
If you are interested in installing a new weathervane, read our helpful shopping guide below. We have compared dozens of popular weathervanes available on the market today and compiled a shortlist of promising contenders. Topping our list is the Good Directions Barn Rooster Estate Weathervane, a higher-end model inspired by vintage weathervanes and created by artisans who use the best metals for outdoor installation.
What to know before you a buy weathervane
Almost all weathervanes are designed with weather exposure in mind, although some decorative pieces could serve as interior wall hangings. Some form of metal is the most popular construction material, from copper to brass to stainless steel. These metals tend to resist the corrosive effects of rain and sun exposure, although they may develop a patina over time. This greenish coating, primarily associated with copper, is not considered a destructive form of rust, but more of a protective coating created by gradual oxidation.
Some modern weathervanes may incorporate more eco-friendly materials such as recycled aluminum, plastic, and wood. These materials are more susceptible to weathering, but they also help to reduce the price point and offer alternatives to traditional weathervane designs.
Weathervanes are meant to be noticed and admired from a distance, so size does matter. There are smaller models that stand only 12 inches high, which may be all that is required for a small chicken coop or a doghouse. For a more dramatic statement, a weathervane standing 60 inches tall will be very noticeable on the roof of a barn or a cupola on a house or church. The additional weight of an oversized weathervane is definitely a consideration, but some structures benefit aesthetically from a larger installation.
Ease of use
One of the most challenging aspects of a weathervane is installation. Different roofs have different degrees of pitch, which means the angle of the mounting bracket must match the angle of the roof to fit securely. Some mounting kits have adjustable brackets that conform to the specific pitch of the intended location. These brackets must also be attached to the roof securely enough to support a mounting rod and a large topper. Professional installation is a relatively inexpensive proposition, but many users find the process manageable with the proper tools and a safe work environment.
Some weathervane kits do not include mounting equipment, which means the user must order the brackets separately or create one from scratch using common mounting hardware. Proper installation could also be a two-person operation, especially if the topper is oversized.
While the spinning topper of a weathervane is the main point of focus, there are other elements that also create visual interest or add function. The topper may spin freely in the wind, but it’s the fixed “directionals” that bring function to form. A calibrated and fixed set of north, east, west, and south markers indicate wind direction.
Another useful accessory, although not necessarily scientific, is a set of wind cups. These spinning elements are pushed by the wind and give a rough indication of current wind speed. A decorative globe may separate the topper from the fixed base, adding another design element. Some weathervanes also incorporate mechanical elements activated by the wind cups or supporting rod.
How much you can expect to spend on a weathervane
Very basic weathervanes constructed from plastic, aluminum or thin steel can be found on store shelves for less than $50, but size and durability are important considerations. A higher-quality midrange model suitable for most applications should cost between $60-$150 on average. Oversized weathervanes, often crafted by professional artisans, can easily retail for $200 or more, depending on the quality of the construction material and the craftsmanship.
Q. I want to put a weathervane on my new barn. Is professional installation difficult?
A. Generally speaking, the installation of a weathervane is a straightforward process for professionals. Many weathervanes include a mounting kit that attaches directly to the structure, but these kits can also be purchased separately or created onsite. The most difficult part of the process is determining the best location and accessing it.
Q. I want a weathervane for decoration, but I want something eco-friendly. What options do I have?
A. Although many traditional and antique weathervanes are constructed from metals such as iron, steel, copper, or brass, you can find modern versions that use recycled aluminum and other eco-friendly materials.
What are the best weathervanes to buy?
Our take: This artisan-crafted traditional copper weathervane is ideal for those who seek a durable and functional work of art on full display year-round.
What we like: 100% copper and brass construction. Highly visible, generous proportions. Develops a true patina over time. Spins freely with only one point of contact.
What we dislike: On the expensive side. Mounting bracket sold separately.
Where to buy: Sold at Amazon
Top weathervane for money
Our take: Classic rooster weathervane appearance at a much lower retail price than expected. No additional equipment needed.
What we like: Mounting equipment included. Steel elements are powder-coated. Tops can be swapped out. Wind cups spin freely on ball bearings. Affordable price point.
What we dislike: Construction materials are not durable, some premature rusting reported.
Where to buy: Sold at Amazon
Worth checking out
Our take: While not as durable as copper or iron models, this affordable weathervane works well on smaller outbuildings, such as chicken coops, sheds, and cupolas.
What we like: Recycled-aluminum and baked-enamel construction. Appealing entry-level price point. Base adjusts to roof pitch. Rust and weather resistant.
What we dislike: Dimensions are smaller than expected. Challenging to assemble.
Where to buy: Sold at Amazon
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Michael Pollick writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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